2007 Session Summary

What WE Did

As the Alabama Retail Association predicted even before the 2007 regular session began, few pieces of legislation cleared the closely divided Alabama Senate. In fact, only 12 bills, other than budgetary, local and sunset legislation, received final approval in the upper chamber during the entire 30-day session. Despite the legislative logjam, your Alabama Retail Association worked to establish two study committees on issues of importance to retailers:

Create Study Panel on Online
Business License Renewals/Payments

Legislation to create a task force to study the feasibility of and set a timeline for a statewide online filing and payment system for business licenses was one of the planks of your Alabama Retail Association 2007 State Legislative Agenda. A seven-member Municipal Business License Filing Interim Task Force will report its findings to the Legislature no later than the fifth legislative day of the 2008 regular session. The 2008 session begins at noon Tuesday, Feb. 5. The study panel legislation follows the 2006 approval of business license reform, which will establish a uniform licensing system statewide to take effect by 2008.

Alabama Retail Member to Serve
on E-911 Wireless Phone Fee Study Committee

One member of a study committee, which will review the process by which wireless phone service fees are collected to fund the state Enhanced 911 emergency telephone service, will be appointed by the Alabama Retail Association. That seat will be a retail company that sells prepaid wireless telephone service to Alabama customers. Legislation passed in 2007 calling for the state to rethink the procedures, collection, distribution and governing body for the fees wireless phone users pay. The study committee will make recommendations to the Legislature on those changes by the fifth day of the 2008 regular session.

What THEY Didn’t Do

Often more important than passing legislation is killing any that could be detrimental to retailers. Alabama Retail had a hand in keeping some extremely detrimental legislation from seeing the light of day.

Make COOL Cool: For the fifth year, legislation requiring food service establishments to label seafood products as imported or domestic didn’t get a warm reception in the Alabama Legislature. Alabama Retail supports more positive programs such as the “Eat Alabama Wild Shrimp Campaign.”
Get a Bite on Catfish Labeling: Legislation that would have required restaurants to inform consumers whether catfish is “farm-raised” or “river or lake” or if the product was imported from a country other than the United States never even got reviewed.
Require Retailers to Collect Paid Wireless Phone Fees: Legislation that would have required retailers to collect the E-911 fees required to be paid on wireless phone service at the point of sale for pre-paid wireless phones was carried over and the Legislature instead set up a study committee on the feasibility of collection measures. The committee includes an Alabama Retail member.
Prohibit Pharmacists from Substituting Anti-Epileptic Generics: Neither chamber of the Alabama Legislature voted on Alabama Retail-opposed legislation that would have stopped pharmacists
from substituting any anti-epileptic therapeutic product without the prescribing physician’s and patient’s consent.
Establish a Separate, State Minimum Wage: The assigned committee refused to act on legislation that would have set a minimum wage for Alabama workers that differed from the federal minimum.
Put Prison Labor in Competition with Retailers: Neither chamber acted on legislation that would have put prison labor in direct competition with retailers.

What’s LEFT to Do

Some issues not addressed in 2007 will be revisited in 2008.
Late Fee Increase: Alabama Retail will work again next year for passage of a modest increase to $18 for the late fee for credit payments.
Theft by Emergency Exit Crime: Alabama Retail won’t let the thieves get away with it. We’ll be back to make it first-degree theft of property for anyone attempting to steal property to use an emergency exit to make a quick get away and evade loss prevention efforts.
Sales Tax Holiday for Energy Efficient Products and Hurricane Supplies: Building on the popularity of the back-to-school sales tax holiday, Alabama Retail will once again support two other sales tax holidays, one for energy-efficient products and another for supplies related to hurricane or other weather emergencies.
Avoidance of Higher Unemployment Taxes: Alabama Retail will push for a required correction to the 2005 State Unemployment Tax Act, which will put the state in alignment with federal law as one of the Legislature’s first acts of the 2008 regular session or during a special session if one is called. If lawmakers don’t act, businesses could see a $378 increase per employee in federal unemployment taxes, and Alabama Retail doesn’t intend to stand by and allow that to happen.